Bowmore Single Malt whisky was officially established in 1779 by local merchant John Simson, making it one of the first distilleries on Islay to ever receive license to legally produce whisky. As with many other Scottish distilleries, it’s likely that Simson had been distilling on the grounds for a number of years before that – probably since his arrival in 1766.
The Bowmore distillery which lies on the South Eastern shore of Loch Indaal, is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, which is part of the Japanese Suntory portfolio. As an Islay distillery, Bowmore’s whisky is peated and holds the unmistakable characteristics of an Islay Malt. However, its notes lean more towards smoke and sweeter sugars rather than of peat and seaweed.
Despite its location on the banks of Loch Indaal in central Islay, Bowmore’s water comes from the river Laggan, where it flows after completing a 19-kilometer journey starting in limestone and sandstone hills on the east coast, and then picking up heather from the hills and peat in the Islay bogs. Such water produces a light and subtle whisky with a good balance of mineral and vegetal.
After its opening in 1779, it wasn’t long before Simson passed the ownership of Bowmore to the Mutter family in 1837, who held onto ownership of the flourishing distillery until 1892.
The Mutters were originally ‘scientific’ farmers whose focus was improving cultivation on the island. As a result they are reported to have improved the distillery, honing distilling practices and the flow of necessary elements to the site. The distillery was then bought from the Mutter family in 1925 by J.B. Sheriff & Co. and remained under their ownership until being purchased by Inverness-based William Grigor & Son, Ltd. in 1950. Although Morrison substantially rebuilt and renovated much of the distillery, he retained the original floor maltings and traditional whisky production methods which are still in use to this day.
Winner of a whole host of awards, Bowmore has been named Distillery of the Year multiple times, and various expressions have also been recognized with Double Gold Awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.